Saturday, August 27, 2011

What a week!

First we had the earthquake and now a hurricane.  Hurricane Irene is baring down on us here on the East Coast.  At the moment, here in Virginia, we are experiencing the calm before the storm but I imagine things will change drastically over the next several hours.  But that's fine.  We have food & water, I have library books and Kindle books, I have three storm related DVD's to watch (love to scare my self silly!) plus the three Twilight movies if I get desperate.  And knitting.  I have plenty of knitting.

Actually, I have a little too much knitting.  I thought I'd learned my lesson a few years ago and had learned to have only two projects going on at a time, an At Home/Needs Concentration project and a On The Go/Social project.  But lately, I've reverted back to my old ways.  Since opening my Etsy shop, I've been thinking more about design ideas and what others may want, not just knitting for me.  Unfortunately, I keep coming up with more and more fun ideas and I can't control myself - I immediately go off on a tangent & start working on them.  I've also been busy knitting for our local visitor's center because they asked to put some of my hand knit items in their gift shop.   More projects on the needles!  I seem to be knitting one row a day on 80 different projects.  I'm feeling torn and guilty for ignoring the things I don't get to.  Knitting projects hate to be ignored!

The solution?  I plan to spend this hurricane knitting.  First, I'll watch my storm related DVD's (while the power is still on) and knit like a mad woman.  Later tonight, when the worst of the storm is here and we most likely won't have power, I'll knit by the light of the Kindle while I listen to it read to me.  Or maybe I'll just use the light and listen to the power of the storm.  But I imagine that by midnight, when the worst of the storm is due to arrive, I'll be pretty sick of hearing the wind blow.   Then after the storm, when we have to spend a few days without electricity, I plan to continue to knit.  After all, I won't be able to do laundry, run the dishwasher or vacuum.  May as well knit, right?  Of course, someone will need to clean up the downed trees and what ever damage we sustain, put all the furniture & plants back out on the deck, put gas in the generator, move the generator from the refrigerator to the air conditioner to the septic pump and back to the refrigerator again, but isn't that why I have a husband and kids?  Let them do it.  I have knitting to do!

Happy storm survival fellow East Coasters!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We interrupt this knitting program...

Haven't gotten much knitting done for the past 2 days.  We had a fairly large earthquake yesterday.  We are not in an earthquake prone zone so it was pretty exciting.  Rather than knitting, I spent the afternoon & evening telling my story to everyone that would listen.  If I missed telling you....  And today, I've spent the morning reading everyone else's stories.  Tomorrow, I'll resume the knitting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cujo Cozy

We've been experiencing car issues lately.  We are the proud owners of five vehicles and yet, at one point, not a single one was running properly.  The Blazer, my particular favorite, used to be mine.  It was what I drove daily for, well, it seems like forever.  But it started having problems a few years ago & it kept leaving me on the side of the road.  The final time, on a 100+ degree day when it conked out in a traffic jam and I had to push it off the road by myself while the nice gentleman in a pickup truck screamed at me to get out of the way, I threw a bit of a tantrum and refused to ever drive it again.  And I didn't for over two years.

But recently, I found myself forced to drive the Blazer once again.  Hubby swore all the issues it had been having were fixed.  He's been driving it most days for over a year and hasn't had any trouble.  Ok, fine.  I'm not happy about it, but I'll drive it.

And what do you think happened?  Yep, stranded on the side of the road.  With Cujo.  Ok, it was a mini Cujo, but a Cujo none the less.

I was cruising along on a 55 mph rural road with a dump truck and a tractor trailer about a quarter mile behind me.  Cruising along thinking that it's great the fuel issues have been fixed, but why in the world hasn't the a/c been fixed?  That's right - no a/c.  In fact, not only does the Blazer not have working a/c, but the heat is stuck on.  The out-door thermometer was registering 108, and I'm cruising along with the heat on.   And then suddenly, I wasn't cruising.  The car was still on, but we were loosing power.  And the dump truck & tractor trailer are riding door handle to door handle & gaining on me.  Luckily, I came up on a trailer that sits right on the side of the road & instead of having a driveway, they simply have a cleared area with no ditch to cross.  I pulled in & the car instantly died.  And the two trucks whizzed past.

I tried to restart the car, but it was obvious it didn't want to start.  I called dear Hubby & used every curse word I've ever heard.  Loudly.  And most of them twice.  I told him where I was & that he better come rescue me pronto.  I was not a happy camper.  Did I mention that it was 108 degrees?  And that it was the middle of the day.  A nice, sunny, nary a cloud in the sky day.  Within about 20 seconds, I was a big puddle of sweat.  And of course, my water bottle that I always carry with me was almost empty.  

It was really, really hot in the car.  I was thinking about getting out and finding some shade to sit in, but there wasn't any.  The trailer I was parked in front of had a deserted look to it.  I didn't think anyone was home and it didn't have a porch or awnings or anything to create some shade.  And of course, no trees either.  The darn thing was surrounded by acres and acres of mowed grass.  And about that time, Cujo made his appearance.   Instead of a big, rabid St. Bernard, this Cujo happened to be a tiny little yappy dog. But I don't trust strange little yappy dogs.  They tend to be much more protective of their turf and out to prove the point that size doesn't matter.  Little yappy dogs seem to bite much more frequently than big, rabid St. Bernards.  I decided that no matter how hot it was in the car, I was probably safer inside than outside with Mini-Cujo.

I dug my Kindle out of my purse.  Figured reading while I waited would take my mind off my desire to kill my husband for ever suggesting that I drive that darn car and the urge to push it out into the path of the next on-coming truck.   Of course, the Kindle had just enough battery to turn on, then promptly turn itself off.

I turned to my knitting bag.  I never leave home without it.  I knew knitting would be tricky considering the fact that even my hands were actively sweating, but I needed something to do to entertain myself.  And wouldn't you know it - I'd never restocked the bag.  There were 4 different projects in it, all requiring another ball of yarn.  Yarn which is happily stored at home.  Argh!  The only yarn available was a tiny ball of left over sock yarn.  It was so tiny, I didn't even think it would make a toe of a sock.  But I cast on a few stitches anyway.  After all, pointless knitting is better than no knitting at all, right?  Besides, knitting calms me and it was getting harder & harder to resist the urge to push the car out in front of the next oncoming truck.

I knit a pointless little tube because 4 inch dpns were all I had in my knitting bag.  I knit and I knit and I breathed deeply & tried not to think about how hot and how mad I was.  Just as I got to the end of the yarn, Hubby showed up to rescue me.

Once home, the first thing I did was to drink a couple of gallons of water.  The second was to restock the car knitting bag.  While doing the restocking, I of course found the soggy tube of knitting I'd created.  Hmmm.  I bet this would fit over a beer/soda can.  I tested it out.  What do you know - a beer cozy!

I'm calling it the Cujo Cozy.  And you know what?  I have zillions more little tiny balls of left over yarn. I could make zillions more cozies.  And as much as I hate those paper coffee cup cozies that come with store bought coffee, this knit one is pretty nice.  The can doesn't slip & slide inside the cozy like the coffee cups do.  This knitted one is absorbing the sweat off the can so my hand isn't getting all wet.  That is a pet peeve of mine - I HATE having wet hands.  My hand is also not getting cold from holding the can.   This is actually pretty cool.  I think I will make a few more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gimme Fever

Wow!  And I thought I had a bad case of Fall Fever before.

I started this simple scarf last night, thinking I'd sell it through my Etsy shop.  But nope!  Not gonna happen.  I'm keeping this baby!  I absolutely LOVE the colors.  They scream "Autumn leaves!"  I can't wait to wrap it around my neck & go pumpkin shopping.  I don't care if it is still 108 degrees outside.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Log Cabin Quilts

Log Cabin Quilts.  Ahhh, the possibilities are endless.  Take a look at some of the 37,700 images that pop up when you do a Google Images search.  Gorgeous, aren’t they?

As I said, the possibilities are endless.  You can follow the same pattern but use different colors and get totally different results.  You can use the same pattern and same colors but rotate your squares differently and wind up with a completely different look.  Instead of having a group of squares sewn together, you can create one huge square.  If you make the stripes more like blocks than stripes, your end result is hardly recognizable as being a Log Cabin pattern.  And when knitting, you can use short rows which will make your stripes wider at one end than the other.   When using short rows, your finished piece will look like a Log Cabin but it will have a non-traditional shape.  

When knitting a Log Cabin quilt, you also have the option of stitch pattern.  You could use all garter stitches, or all stockinette, or even a combination of the two.  Perhaps you may choose to knit the dark stripes in garter and the light in stockinette, for example.   And then there’s the yarn itself.  Darks and lights?  Pastels?  Every color of the rainbow?  Or perhaps you may choose to simply close your eyes, reach into your stash pile (I know you have one!) and use what ever you happen to grab.
As I said, the possibilities are endless.  And the Log Cabin is the one time I actually enjoy swatching.  Swatching has always seemed so pointless to me.  I’m a process knitter, meaning I enjoy the process more than being the owner of a finished piece, although that may be because, due to my lack of swatching, my finished pieces frequently don’t fit exactly right.  I’m reminded here of that “40 inch chest” sweater I once knit that turned out to fit someone with a 64 inch chest.  I did wonder why I kept running out of yarn.....  
Digression, once again.  
Swatching.  It’s actually fun with the Log Cabin pattern.  Unless your swatch turns out to be hideous, you can use it as a coaster, sew some fabric to the back of it and call it a pot-holder.  Pad the pot-holder a little more, add a drop or two of essential oil, or not, and call it a trivet.  Make lots of swatches, sew them together and presto-magic.  You have yourself a scarf, a table runner, or maybe even an afghan, depending on how swatch crazy you get.   And if your swatch does turn out to be hideous, you can always use it as a dust rag.
So, how do you create a Log Cabin square?  It’s simple.  So simple, you don’t need a pattern.  The only thing you need is to determine whether you want to knit a group of small squares to then sew together, or one large piece that needs no sewing.  
I’m lazy and generally go for the non-sewing version.  When choosing the non-sewing, one huge block version, you then have one more choice to make.  Do you want your finished piece to be a square or a rectangle?
Ok, there is one more thing to consider.  Your yarn.  Will you be using baby weight or super bulky or something in between?  The yarn’s weight will affect the number of stitches you start with - maybe.  For example, ten stitches in baby weight may give you a one inch  wide piece while 10 stitches in super bulky may give you 4 inches.  How big do you want your center block?  Swatching will definitely help you with this decision.

After you’ve made all those decisions, it’s time to cast on your stitches, say 20 of them, but again, that will probably depend on the weight of your yarn.  Now, knit back and forth on those 20 stitches, either in garter or stockinette stitch until you have either a square or a pronounced rectangle. In the piece above, I cast on 22 stitches using a sport weight yarn and knit 20 garter ridges, or 40 rows.  There’s no set formula though.  Generally, I knit the center block as long as I can stand to knit on it before the urge to change colors becomes so strong I can’t stand it anymore.  When you are done knitting the center block, bind off the stitches but leave the final stitch “live”.  Cut your yarn, but don’t pull it through that last stitch.  This lone, live stitch will be your first stitch in the next stripe.
Now, you are ready to start your first stripe.  Choose your yarn, rotate the center block a quarter turn and using the new yarn, pick up the stitches down the side.  The number of stitches you pick up will be determined by the length of the block.  If you are using a variety of weights of yarn in this project, you may need to add or skip a few stitches to adjust for the difference in yarn.  You won’t want your knitting to be puckered or stretched due to combining baby weight with worsted weight yarns, for example.  And again, your swatch will have given you some insight as to what to do here.
Once you’ve picked up your stitches, knit in either garter or stockinette, until you have a strip wide enough to please you.  In the piece pictured above, I knit eight garter stitch ridges, or 16 rows.  Now, bind those stitches off, leaving the final stitch live.  Pick a new yarn, rotate your fabric a quarter turn, pick up all of the stitches down the side and knit the same number of rows as in the first stripe.  Or not.  If you want it to have an uneven, non-traditional Log Cabin feel to it, vary the number of rows you knit.
Continue knitting the rows, binding off, turning your fabric, picking up stitches and knitting until you have what you want - a coaster, a pillow top, a king sized blanket or even a tarp to cover your house.  When the piece is as large as you want it, bind off the stitches, including that final one.  Weave in your ends and you’ve got yourself a Log Cabin coaster, pillow top, blanket or tarp.
If you choose to make a bunch of small squares and sew them together, you’ll follow the same process, only start with fewer stitches and make smaller squares.  Again, the number of stitches you start with will be based on the yarn you choose and how big you want that center block to be compared to the size of the square.  How big you make the individual squares will be based on how many of them you want to knit and how big you want your finished piece to be.  Again, swatching is quite helpful here.
Good luck!  You can do it.  Even the swatching!  Log Cabins are very simple, much more simple than they look.  And addicting.  Very addicting.  This blog post should probably come with a warning.  You may find that after you’ve knit your first one, you can’t stop.  In fact, just typing this has give me the urge to start another.  A very, very strong urge.  In fact, that Fair Isle sweater I was planning to start today just may end up being a Log Cabin blanket instead.
Hey - I have an idea.  How about a Log Cabin knit-along?  Anyone want to join me?  No rules, just knit some form of Log Cabin.  Send me a photo and I'll post it here.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Shop of My Own

For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of having my own knitting shop.  A cozy little corner store on a quiet street where I could be surrounded by beautiful yarns on a daily basis and customers would occasionally stop by to browse, chat, knit and shop.  That was the dream.  The reality of that dream would probably be more like me barring the doors & windows so the customers could not gain access to all that beautiful yarn and end up taking it away from me.  And with the doors barred, UPS wouldn't be able to deliver new yarns.  As embarrassing as it is to admit, I could actually sort of see that happening.

So, I decided to do the next best thing.  I opened a shop on Etsy to sell my hand knitted items.   Instead of a corner store on a quiet road,  I am in my home on a curve of a quiet road.  I am surrounded by beautiful yarns everyday.  I'm creating & knitting daily.   I'm chatting with customers via email and I hope to one day meet at least a few of them face to face.  I'm listing my items for sale.  And I'm having the time of my life.

I hope you'll come visit my shop.  You can find me at   Oh, and as a little incentive, my first customer will receive 10% off their order.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Misbehaving Cables

Although I'd promised myself I would finish the mitered mittens before I started anything else, I suddenly got the urge to cable yesterday.  Of course, the urge struck five minutes before I was scheduled to drive Zack to the bowling alley for his Wednesday night bowling league.  I grabbed yarn & needles that I hoped would be appropriate for cabling with that particular yarn & dashed out the door.

At the bowling alley, I knit.  And knit and knit and knit.  And listened to Around the World in 80 Days on my Kindle, which in my opinion, is probably the most boring book ever written.  I would never have gotten past the first paragraph if I was actually taking the time to read it.  Listening to it while I knit is bad enough.  But, it's on my 101 list so I press on.  

I'm also digressing.  Back to knitting...

Wednesday night bowling seems to last for ever!  Actually, it's about 3.5 hours.  Fantastic knitting/reading time actually.  I only complain because the seats are a bit uncomfy.  You'd think with all of my natural butt padding I'd be okay, but....  Anyway....  After a couple of hours of knitting my cable (it's a scarf & only has the one cable running down the center) I realized something.  Something horrible.  There was a major problem with my cable.  It's a three sectioned cable and the first ten or so twists of it had the center section running straight up the center with the other two sections twisting behind it.  The eleventh through thirteenth cables were braiding themselves with all three sections twisting around each other.  What the heck!?!  I swear I wasn't doing anything different.  Ok, so maybe I may have knit two rows less in a couple of those first sets, but other than that...  I KNOW I wasn't doing the actual cable any differently.  Maybe the fact that a few of the sections were shorter was causing the center cable section to act/appear differently.  And well, if I was going to be honest with myself, and if I looked too closely, the error was sort of noticeable.

Rip, rip, rip.

Two hours of knitting and almost 24 inches of cable, down the drain.

I got home and started over but I didn't get far before sleep overtook me.  I picked it back up this morning and knit a bit while waiting for my email to load.  Has anyone else noticed how freaking slow G-mail has been lately??   Here's what I've got so far:

That center section is going right up the middle again.   Please, oh please tell me I didn't frog the original for nothing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hard knocks

Hmph!  I learned something the hard way today.  I learned that when you have two blogs, each one assigned to a different email address, when you are signed in to email address "A" & you go into blog "B" and type a post, when you hit "Submit Post," the post automatically shows up on blog "A" because that's the email address you are currently using instead of it posting to blog "B" where you thought you were.  Argh.


Here's a link to the post that was supposed to be here.  It's about a favorite pattern of mine - mitered mittens.

Minnie says, "I would have told you that would happen, but I was too busy scratching."